Reflections on Our TLC Experience

Tracy Chaplin, the producer of the upcoming mini-series Families by the Dozen, explained TLC as “returning to being a learning channel.” People want to learn about what it is like to be in a family like ours, to be a fly on the wall, to walk through a week with the Jeubs and observe daily occurrences that, similar to anyone, is unique with a dozen kids running around. From September 18-25, 2006, we allowed a producer and assistant producer, two cameramen and a sound technician come into our home and capture the day-to-day life of the Jeub Family. Nearly 80 hours of video was captured that will be edited down to 45 minutes for a 1-hour episode on The Learning Channel. Our episode will air in January 2007.

This project will not be narrated. The only voices will be by family’s and the participants on camera. Tracy and his crew asked questions throughout the week, and we simply answered them the best we could. The people at Powderhouse (the production firm working for TLC) will edit the work to bring the Jeubs’ philosophy of family life in with real-life examples.

The events of the week were reminiscent of most families–large and small–but had peculiarities that made them novel. We went shopping for one full (and very long) day–in our converted school bus. We attended AWANA that same evening-and everyone in our family (all 13) participated in one way or another. We homeschooled at the kitchen table. We did chores, washed the dishes, folded laundry. The camera crew came to work with me one day–with my 14-year-old admin assistant, Cynthia, coming with me. The crew followed Wendy to her small-group Bible study at a local coffee shop on Tuesday night, and they followed Cynthia and me to Debate Club on Thursday night. We went to church together–a home church located in a community center. And the biggest event was perhaps the most unique: hosting 188 people at our home for The Jeub Birthday Bash, the one birthday party we throw for all our kids.

The themes discussed throughout the week were rich. Wendy and I can’t wait to see how Powderhouse crams so much content into one episode. These themes are themes every parent and child can learn from and apply to their own lives. Here are some:

  • Creativity. In a family with 13 kids, parents and children need to adapt to their surroundings and be creative with what they have. We gave a thorough account of our bus, something we believe to be incredibly creative. The tips and solutions we come up with can be applied to families of all sizes.
  • Frugality. There is conventional wisdom that says a child costs too much money. We don’t believe that children “exhaust” a family’s equity. The cameras captured many money-saving practices that any family can apply. In fact, Wendy and I managed to feed 188 people for under $1 a head, and the cameras followed us shopping to show how.
  • Training. There is peace in the Jeub home, which is likely the most surprising thing of a home with 11 children under 14-years-old running around. Wendy and I take time to “train” our children on proper behavior and etiquette. The cameras picked up on training episodes on how to behave in the stores and in church. Training is the key to raising kids who are well behaved–as well as key to making a house of more-than-a-dozen a house of joy rather than chaos.
  • Trials. The Jeubs aren’t immune to family hardships and sin. Our little ones had quite a few “meltdowns” in front of the cameras. We have adult children whom we love who do things that create trauma and separation. Our journey as a family has not been squeaky clean. We go into great detail on many of our familial trials. The things we have learned and are still learning are truths that can be applied to a number of families, large and small.
  • Extended Family. My sister Becky traveled up from Arizona for the Birthday Bash. Becky has “only” one child, which gave a wonderful opportunity to contrast two different branches stemming from the same familial root. Two of Wendy’s three sisters flew out for the Bash also (Heather and Paula). The cameras captured the three working in the kitchen reminiscing about being raised in a “large” family (Wendy had five siblings). Extended family–aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.–bring a wealth of love into a family.
  • Blessings. Just like children are far from a drain on the family, we believe they are each a blessing. Each child contributes to the health and wellbeing of the family in their individual ways. TLC spent a great deal of time with Cynthia, our 14-year-old, who works as my administrative assistant twice a week. I talk about the spirit of entrepreneurialism I am instilling in my children.
  • Freedom. Tracy caught me off guard when he told me of a word Wendy and I were using quite often in the interviews: freedom. There is a faulty notion that children are enslaving, that raising a family is “sacrificing” the enjoyable life. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimate freedom comes from walking in relationship with Jesus Christ, and for the Jeubs this includes allowing God to bless us with children. We are free!
  • Love. This was the most profound aspect of our interviews. When it comes down to it, everything we do centers on love. God is love. The most profound statements of the week center on the love we have for our God and the love we have for each other. All the pragmatic examples of “how to do it” amounts to nothing if Love is neglected.

We are already talking about having Powderhouse and TLC out to hour home for Episode 2. What that will look like we don’t yet know. Wendy and I are eager to have a 14th child, and perhaps that will be the story. Whatever the story is, we hope to spread the message of love and joy to families of all sizes. It is a wonderful message full of eternal truths that Wendy and I are constantly discovering through our life journey. Our cup overflows with divine love and we can’t help but share it with you. Be sure to tune into The Learning Channel in January to walk through a week with The Jeubs. Previews will launch in December.

About Chris & Wendy Jeub

The Jeub Family live in Monument, Colorado. They encourage couples to love God and love one another, building an atmosphere of love in their homes.

  • Jen

    Can’t wait to see your show! We are very excited, down here in Texas! May they capture all you tryed to convey and may it inspire many!

  • Gwen Hegstad

    Let me introduce myself. My name is Gwen (Heppner) Hegstad. I am Duwayne’s (Spud as I know him) only sister. My husband and I have 2 girls, 26 and 23, and one boy, 18. We also have a son-in-law and one grandaughter. I have had the pleasure for the last few years of having Spud and his family over for Holiday gatherings. People ask me how I manage to prepare a meal for that many people. I tell them it’s really quite simple because once we decide on a menu they tell me what they want to bring. They usually bring the mashed potatoes which I am very thankful for! :~) The last couple of years I have even had an Easter Egg hunt for the little ones.
    I have enjoyed reading a little bit about your family. It remindes me of what I see in theirs.

  • Nancy G.

    I only met you a couple of times while you lived in the Kent area. But our priest from St. Thomas Church spoke of you often. It will be fun to watch and see all of your family.
    Gods Blessings are with you!!
    Nancy G.

  • Tamara

    I have enjoyedall the TLC large family episodes. However, the living-by-His-Grace approach of both your family and the Heppner’s is most touching. Thank you for your honest approach. We are all running the race, not perfectly, but in His Grace!

  • Dawn

    I just saw your show on TLC! – I was so impressed. I admire your family values and the love you have for your children. I wish you the best. I thought I was a thrifty spender. I think I have met my match. May God bless you all.

  • Michelle

    I saw your show on TLC and loved it and can’t wait for more. We live in Denver and are a family of 11. We have 9 children 8 who are here with us and 1 up in Heaven. We have 5 boys ages 17 to 7 months and 3 girls 8-4 years old.
    How do you get past the hurtful remarks? You know like, Why, do you want so many kids? Don’t you own a TV? etc….
    If I even breath the word baby everyone looks at me like I should be in the nut house…
    Have a great day always!! :)

    [Chris Jeub: We don’t get nearly as many hurtful remarks as curious remarks. I think people are simply curious, not so much hurtful.]

  • Stacie

    We live in Oregon and have 5 children so far. It was such a blessing for my children to watch you all work together as a team. It showed them that they are not the only ones that have to work around the house to make things go more smoothly. Actually, they have been even more helpful since watching the show! What a blessing!

    Also, we stole your idea of saying “Jueb Children” and having them all line up by ages. My three oldest are old enough to do this and now we say “Brown Children” and they line right up so I can give them instructions! My six year old saw that and said “We should do that!”, and they’ve been doing it ever since. Too cute!

    Our children are ages 8, 6, 4, 2, and 3 months old. I have to admit although I want a bunch of children, my body needs a break. I have a question to Wendy, “How does your body handle having so many children?” Do you have issues? I have many issues myself. When I am pregnant I can barely walk because of inflammation of the pubic bone, and I can barely stand to sit for longer than 10 minutes because of other issues. I was told to take superior supplements, Motrin, and try to rest. What do you do to stay healthy and be able to have more children? I am blessed having never to go on bed rest do to bigger issues, but with my last pregnancy I could barely keep up with the younger ones.

    We homeschool as well, and love it. The only thing frustrating is to know what to do with the little ones when I’m homeschooling the younger ones. They all want to do what their big brother’s and sister are doing. Any suggestions?

    Thanks for listening, and I hope I haven’t overwhelmed you with all my questions.

    Stacie from Oregon
    Wife to Steve
    Mother to 4 boys and one girl

  • Karen

    I saw the TLC show of your family and watched with a smile. We have been contacted by TLC to do the same show, but after much thought and prayer we declined. I could really feel for you and the relationship with your oldest daughter. I have a similar relationship with my oldest son- who is from a previous marriage and now living with his father. It is frustrating and heartbreaking, but we must do the best we can for all of our children and not forsake them all for the sake of one.
    My children are: son (who’ll be 18 in Dec), daughter 12¾, daughter 11¾, daughter 11, daughter 9¾, son 8½, daughter 7½, daughter 6, daughter 5, daughter 3½, daughter 2½, son 13 mos, and a new baby due in July 2008.

    God bless you and your family!

  • Jamie in Oregon

    Well Hello! What a blessing to see another large family that is sharing God’s message of Children are a blessing! We have 8 children so far and love seeing positive examples of larger families in the media. We homeschool and our oldest daughter is in the AirForce.

    May God continue to Bless you!

    Jamie in Oregon

  • lyndy in outback australia

    I think your family is wonderful and i envy your lifestyle .I have 6 children 3 boys and 3 girls .I would love to have had more children but it wasnt to be .I think some of the people who knock big families are actually jelous .I also love the way your family doesnt hide the fact that life isnt always perfect .Your show i saw was the birthday bash show .Your kids are all lovely .Lyndy

  • Anne

    “Not forsake them all for the sake of one.”? I am so glad my Heavenly Father does not take that approach with me and instead He will leave the 99 sheep to go find the 1 lost one (Luke 15: 3-7). He will open His arms to the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). I enjoyed watching your family and the values that you are trying to raise them with. I am sure I do not know all of the situation but I feel compelled to write and say that I was saddened by your attitude towards your daughter and ashamed that you are telling the world you are a follower of Christ and yet do not demonstrating His loving forgiveness. I am so glad that when I mess up and return to Him that He does not say He can no longer trust me or accept me as I am or my past. I remind you of Christ’s words in Matthew 18:21. Nothing is unforgiveable with the Lord although we are so undeserving of His mercy but how easy it is for us to hold on to each other’s sins. I understand your desire not to badly influence your younger children but it is hard for me to imagine that a situation could not be agreed upon that would allow contact to foster a relationship between you two and not have a negative impact on the younger children. I hope you will be able to mend your relationship with your daughter. What a beautiful example to show the world and your children.

    I think it is great that you want a large family. Have you considered adoption? Maybe that could be your next show and bring much needed attention to the plight of orphans. I just returned from serving for 2 years in a Chinese orphanage for children with special needs. My heart aches knowing some of the children will never know what a family is. You all are great parents and have wonderful values that you could pass on to so many children in need. Your love and love for Christ could help bring these children to the Lord and heal their hearts that have suffered from abandonment. As a Christian, I am ashamed that as a Church we are not doing what God has commanded us to do and care for these orphans (James 1:27). Please consider opening your heart and home to these children.

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